Rosa Mystica 2024: Third and Fourth Days of the Mission

Source: District of Asia

This year, 38 volunteers from all over the world once again responded to ACIM-Asia's call to participate in the 17th Rosa Mystica Medical Mission, from March 3 to 10, 2024. 

Takawal and Domolok

On Wednesday March 6 and Thursday March 7, the Mission settled in Takawal and Domolok, two small puroks (administrative subdivision of the barangay). These areas, recently secured, were dangerous for many years because they were the hideout of NPA (Communist National Liberation Army) rebels.

Yolly, a permanent nurse-catechist of ACIM-Asia and the devoted and irreplaceable heart of the Rosa Mystica Mission, went to Domolok in the 2000s. At that time, no vehicle could reach it. She had to borrow a bamboo raft pulled by a carabao (domestic buffalo) and cross a river seven times before arriving at her destination.

20 years later, a concrete road takes us there easily. The wait for replacement pick-ups was enhanced by tasting delicious little hot rice cakes purchased on the side of the road by our “guardian angels,” the soldiers of the Philippine army who supervise and protect us throughout our journey.

When Yolly was still working at the Ministry of Education, before committing herself body and soul to the Rosa Mystica Mission, she had to go to Domolok to give health education lessons to schoolchildren. At the General Santos motorcycle taxi terminal, all the drivers refused to transport her there. Faced with her insistence, a driver agreed to take her at a high price.

She ordered him to follow all the instructions she gave him along the way. Halfway there, he asked her to cover her face completely, not to try to locate the place she was crossing, and not to react to the screams or the gunshots. After a few dozen minutes – which seemed like an eternity – of driving on dirt roads riddled with potholes, the driver slowed down and allowed her to uncover herself.

They had just crossed a bivouac of rebels who would not have hesitated to “shoot down” Yolly on the spot, if they had simply suspected her of having spotted their encampment. 

By midday, after more than two hours of tireless work, Johannes, a German dentist, had already performed nearly a hundred dental procedures. At the same time, Alexandra, the mission's faithful optician who came from Aix-les-Bains, had encountered numerous pterygiums or thickening of the conjunctiva (40% of her “clients”). She is trying to restore sight to an old woman who had never been able to discover the world around her.

But these are also deserted apostolic fields where, unfortunately, Protestant sects actively deploy and Islam can exist and even thrive. Many Catholic women convert to Islam through marriage. This provides a double reason for the Rosa Mystica Mission to go to these villages, not only to provide care for bodies but also care for souls according to the double vocation assigned to it by its founders, Fr. Daniel Couture and Dr. Jean-Pierre Dickès. Providence is never a stranger to the choice of places that the mission visits each year.

Domolok is, in fact, the hometown of one of the faithful of the Rosa Mystica Chapel in General Santos, served by Fr. Timothy Pfeiffer, chaplain of the Rosa Mystica Mission. It is in the extension of this chapel that ACIM had a dispensary built which is the headquarters of ACIM-Asia and the mission. This parishioner was Protestant, but while attending the University of General Santos, she attended an informal Catholic catechism class given by one of her classmates.

Touched by grace, she asked to be baptized at the Rosa Mystica Chapel attended by the catechist, whom she married some time later. Joël, her husband and faithful supporter of the Rosa Mystica priory of General Santos, was for a long time the accountant of the ACIM.

His wife has just given birth to a fifth child. Unfortunately she is suffering from a heart defect which requires an operation that can only be carried out in Manila, which means being able to travel there, incur expensive accommodations and the high cost of the procedure. The family's modest income would not allow them to cover all the costs. With the help of ACIM and its donors, these obstacles should be eliminated.

Over the years, thanks to the good examples that she, her husband and children set, the other Protestant members of her family who had initially rejected her, softened a little. From time to time, her mother and sister attended Mass with her. Years later, when one of her brothers had a car accident and no longer had money to pay for his medication, the mission came to his aid.

We hope that with the arrival of the medical mission in their village, this family and many others will be able to taste Catholic charity, open their hearts and, God willing, their ears and their minds to the Catholic Faith. There is no doubt: it is truly the infectious joy of charity that all volunteers, old and new, experience.

“The most important thing,” says Dr. Johannes our new German dentist, “for me, as for all of us, is to be able to help all those people who cannot receive help because of their poverty or their disability. The union between religion and medicine is a perfect symbiosis to ensure integral, bodily and spiritual health!”

The Rosa Mystica Mission needs your prayers, your help and your generosity!

The mission only survives thanks to the support and donations of its friends and benefactors! The volunteers are truly volunteers and finance their own plane tickets. Donations are allocated solely to the material organization of the Mission, for the purchase of medicines and medical equipment, and sometimes to finance hospitalizations and more complex surgical procedures the mission is unable to offer.

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